Friday, January 1, 2010

New Year ramblings

So every blogger who writes with any consistency is doing a year in review or a resolutions post today or yesterday. Far be it for me to break free of the conventionality of herd mentality. (Although if you know of one who hasn't succumbed, please let me know so I can visit their original and refreshing spot). So here are my few New Year related ramblings, rsolutions, and wrap-ups.

Really nothing says aging like the way you spend your New Year's Eve, does it? When I was small, I greeted the New Year through my eyelids. When I was in college, I greeted it with a raucous night (read into this as much or as little as you choose--I'm keeping it PG so my parents aren't horrified to hear what their tuition dollars funded ::grin::) on the beach in the middle of a grueling swimming training trip. The first couple of years of our marriage and with the speedy acquisition of babies, we again rang in New Year's through our eyelids. Now that our children are a little older, we have resumed New Year's parties. But there's no raucous about them anymore. Last night, as everyone around me chatted, I spent the moments leading up to the ball dropping with my nose in a friend's Talkeetna Bachelor Auction catalog, reading about the myriad of men up for bid. Yes, technically I rang in the New Year reading (and giggling and telling D. I was pre-screening for his replacement). Sounds about right, eh? The reading, not the replacing D. I mean, seriously, it would be far too expensive to move all my books to Alaska. And once we all toasted and tooted our horns, we headed home to a neighborhood party where our children were still up and frolicking. My New Year's is now a combination of reading and kids. Not too many more years before I'm back to snoozing right through, I'm sure.

Now that I have hauled myself out of bed late on this bright and shiny first day of the year though, I have been pondering the balance of things not only in my life but on the blog. This was mostly spurred on by Florinda's post at 3R's and her comments about balance in blogging. It resonated with me because I sometimes struggle with what I want to present here. I never intended it to be solely focused on books, although if you know me, you'd also know that any blog about my life would necessarily have a pretty substantial book portion. Instead, as I wrote in my very first blog post ever "Mostly this will be a meandering, eclectic sort of blog but chances are you'll generally run across book reviews, chatter about my various runs, and uncensored blathering about my life." I think mostly I've honored that although of late the book reviews have sort of taken over (and don't think I don't get the irony of me discussing this and then fully intending to flood the blog with reading challenge posts over the next couple of days as the new year kicks off).

And I find that when I really think about it, I want to include more of my non-book life. Not only does who I am outside of books make a huge impact on my reading decisions, but I think it gives you a better idea of the real person writing the reviews. Now some of you may not be interested in that but I suspect that those hardy souls who have hung with the blog almost from the very beginning will be happy to see a more varied focus. At least I hope you enjoy the kooky moments of our messy life. Because I am a book blogger but I am also so many other things. So I guess that's one New Year's resolution for me: to find balance. I'll just tack that one up beside the resolution to really, truly get back to running seriously, to get back to making more mindful decisions about what I pop in my mouth before I have to buy an entirely new wardrobe (especially since the 80's fashions weren't pretty on me the first time around), and to seek out the things that have brought me joy in the past because being happy makes me a nicer person all the way around.

I don't really have any reading resolutions, preferring to let the books fall where they may. Of course, I cheerfully make lists and sign up for reading challenges but they only drvie my choices so far. I can't say I want to read more books this year because ultimately the number (which comes out differently every time I try and count) doesn't matter a hill of beans. But I will be reading and reviewing along this year, because books will always be a large part of who I am.

So onto the book round-up. This year, I read 212 books. Of those, 145 were fiction and 67 were non-fiction. I find I read about 2/3 female to 1/3 male authors. And my reading is so all over the map I won't begin to try and list all the genres and sub-genres which made my reading list this year. Looking back over the list, the very best of the best, which was originally going to be my top ten but like the muffin top at my waist just couldn't quite be contained, included:

Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
The Red Queen by Margaret Drabble
Losing My Religion by William Lobdell
Jim the Boy by Tony Earley
Merry Hall by Beverley Nichols
Shakespeare Wrote for Money by Nick Hornby
Burnt Shadows by Kamila Shamsie
The Marriage Bureau for Rich People by Farahad Zama
Pocketful of Names by Joe Coomer
The Book of Unholy Mischief by Elle Newmark
Benny and Shrimp by Katarina Mazetti
The Unit by Ninni Holmqvist

Mostly fiction with a sprinkling of non-fiction. Some serious while others are lighthearted and just plain fun. Historical, current, and even dystopian. Some destined to be considered literary and some long forgotten 20 years from now. More western writers than not but beyond simply American and British writers. The list is probably quite an accurate snapshot of how far and wide my reading meandered this year.

I did have a couple of save the trees awards to hand out but I figure I probably savaged the books enough in my reviews that I shouldn't rehash them in this post. After all, an author conceived them and someone out there loved them despite the fact that they made me personally want to commit seppuku.

And now that you've endured my long-windedness for yet another day, my very best wishes for a happy, healthy new year to all of my readers, the faithful, the occasional, and even the one-off visitors (may you not be hit by a bus as you speed away from this blog).


  1. I like your life stories, so I'm glad to read all over your blog's purpose.

    I'll probably have my year summary/new year resolution post up around Chinese New Year; right now I'm struggling with yesterday's library pile.

  2. Kristen, Your blog and reviews are terrific. I really look forward to your posts. You had an amazing year with 212 book. Hope 2010 is a great year for you and yours.

  3. As a fellow "book blogger plus" (or whatever it's called when your content isn't all books all the time), I'm working on that same idea of balance. I think part of my challenge is that I feel like I SHOULD self-identify in just one blogging niche, but I don't necessarily want to confine my blog content to that. I'm just glad I have company in that challenge :-)!

    Looks like you had a pretty good reading year - hope for more of the same in 2010!

  4. What a great post! Happy New Year!!

  5. I wonder how old that makes me as for years now I've preferred a quiet evening at home with my husband--and often times we don't even notice the coming of the New Year. It just comes--and then goes. LOL

    I think the best course a blogger can take is to be true to herself (or himself) and write what you're most comfortable with. If that means writing about a variety of things, including your life, then so be it. It's your blog, after all. And you can't get rid of me that easily. :-) I'll enjoy those personal posts just as much as the ones on bookish topics, I can assure you.

    You just made me feel guilty. I'm reading your favorites list and saw Lobdell's book mentioned. I started it and then somehow got distracted while reading it--I think I had a couple of deadlines to meet. I need to pick it back up again.

    I actually was thinking I could read that along with a couple of other memoirs with sort of religious slants to them all at the same time. We'll see if I can pull that off.

    I hope you have a great New Year, Kristen!

  6. I'm glad we had a quiet new year's eve. In fact, I was the only one in the house awake for awhile, and it was my job to wake everyone up at 11:30. LOL

    Wishing you all the best in 2010!

    Diary of an Eccentric

  7. Though I don't have any children I will say that my NYE festivities pretty much reflect yours over the years. I tend to fall asleep on the couch then wake up in time for the ball dropping then drag myself into bed. It's worked so far and this year didn't break from that tradition.

    I hope 2010 is a wonderful year for you!

  8. 212!! Wow!

    Have a great 2010.


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